Systematics of the ectomycorrhizal genus Lactarius in the Rocky Mountain alpine zone

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Lactarius (Russulales) is an important component of ectomycorrhizal fungal communities in cold-dominated contiguous arctic and disjunct alpine habitats where it associates primarily with Betula, Dryas and Salix. However, little is known of this genus in the central and southern Rocky Mountain alpine zone (3000–3900 m) of North America. Molecular phylogenetic analyses of nuc rDNA ITS1-5.8S-ITS2 (ITS barcode) and the second largest subunit of the RNA polymerase II gene (RPB2) partial sequences in conjunction with detailed morphological examination confirm at least six species occurring above treeline. Most have intercontinental distributions in North America and Eurasia according to molecular comparison with type material and collections from Europe, Fennoscandia, Svalbard and Alaska. Rocky Mountain collections of L. lanceolatus (subgenus Russularia), along with the type from Alaska are paraphyletic with respect to L. aurantiacus and North American taxa L. luculentus and L. luculentus v. laetus. Rocky Mountain collections of L. nanus, L. glyciosmus, L. repraesentaneus and L. salicis-reticulatae (subgenus Piperites) all form clades with European material from type localities and other arctic-alpine habitats. The arctic-alpine L. pseudouvidus/L. brunneoviolaceus group appears to be a complex containing additional taxa. North American material originally described as part of this group is well-separated phylogenetically and is described here as L. pallidomarginatus sp. nov. Lactarius lanceolatus, L. nanus and L. salicis-reticulatae appear largely restricted to arctic-alpine habitats with Salix. Lactarius glyciosmus and L. repraesentaneus occur in arctic-alpine, subalpine and boreal habitats with Betula and also Picea and possibly Salix for the latter. Species distributions are hypothesized to be shaped by host ranges, glaciation and long distance dispersal.




Barge, Edward G. , Cathy L. Cripps, and Todd W. Osmundson. "Systematics of the ectomycorrhizal genus Lactarius in the Rocky Mountain alpine zone.." Mycologia 180, no. 2 (March/April 2016): 414-440. DOI: 10.3852/15-177.
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